Bessie Coleman was born on January 26, 1893 in Atlanta, Texas.
In pursuing a flying career, she had three goals: earn a pilot’s license; become a recognized stunt and exhibition flier; and establish an aviation school for Blacks.
Rejected by every American aviation school she applied to, she was encouraged by Robert S. Abbott (founder of the Chicago Defender) to study abroad.
It was through both German and French pilots that Coleman returned to the U.S. in 1921 as this country’s first Black female licensed pilot. A year later she earned her international pilot’s license.
Barnstorming across the country, she thrilled thousands as “Brave Bessie”. On April 30, 1936, while making a practice run with her mechanic as the pilot, Bessie Coleman was thrown out of the plane when the controls jammed. A Pioneer in the field of aviation, her story became the inspiration for other Blacks to take to the skies.
Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license? She grew up dreaming of a career in aviation but was not allowed to attend U.S. flight schools. So she trained in France, earned her pilot’s license in 1921, then returned to the U.S. to specialize in stunt flying and parachute jumping as a popular barnstorming entertainer in the 1920s.